Aims: This retrospective analysis was done to describe the difference in the prevalence of osteoporosis/low
bone mass between women referring themselves to bone mineral density (BMD) testing with dual X-ray absorptiometry
(DXA) and women referred by their family practitioner.
Methods: Women were recruited by a health promotion action in a Swiss weekly periodical and compared with female
patients sent by their physician for DXA testing for various medical indications during the same period. Patients under
steroid treatment, known previous fracture and undergoing follow-up for low bone mass were excluded. Self referred
women were compared to female patients aged 40 years and older and the same evaluation was repeated for women aged
65 and older.
Results: No differences were found in the prevalence of osteoporosis /low bone mass in women referred by their physician
vs those who were self referred. However, a significant difference was found with age: the self referred women were 63.1
± 8.6 years of age whereas the patient group’s mean age was 59.7 ± 9.4 (p=0.0001, 95% CI of the difference: 21 – 61
Conclusion: We suggest that health promotion actions might be able to recruit the correct candidates for BMD testing,
since we found no significant difference in the prevalence of osteoporosis/ low bone mass between self referred and
physician referred women. Our data further suggest that physicians may react earlier on their patient’s risk profiles than
the time frame of action by the self-referred women.